First Aid Tips
In the U.S., the number of prescription and OTC medicines in households continues to rise each year, which means that there is a greater chance of kids living in homes where they may be exposed to medicines.
Every parent knows it’s important to store medicine up and away from children. So why is it that every year, nearly 47,000 children are treated in an emergency room for accidental medicine poisoning?
We’ve seen a decrease in the number of hospitalizations and deaths of young children because of medicine-related poisoning thanks to medicine safety awareness and education. However, this progress has slowed down in recent years and far too many young children are still getting into medicines and getting hurt. The good news is that it can be prevented.
Read below to finds tips for medicine safety with regards to children.
What exactly are we talking about when we say "medicine"?
- Medicine can be prescribed by a doctor or purchased over-the-counter (OTC).
- Medicines can come in the form of liquid, capsules, topicals, drops, injections. vitamins and supplements; children’s cough and cold medicines; children’s gummy vitamins, eye drops, diaper rash products.
- You may not always think about products such as eye drops or vitamins, which may not seem like medicine, but actually are.
- The top five categories of medication involved in calls to poison control centers for children ages 5 and younger are ibuprofen (like Advil®, Children’s Advil®, MOTRIN® and Children’s MOTRIN®), diaper rash products (such as DESITIN®, Calmoseptine™), children’s vitamin tablets without iron or fluoride, children’s acetaminophen (such as Children’s TYLENOL®, Feverall®) and antihistamines.
Why is Medicine Safety Important?
Medicine safety is important because:
- Medicines are the leading cause of accidental poisonings that involve children.
- Every minute of every day, a parent or caregiver calls a poison control center after a child gets into medication or is given the wrong amount of medicine.
- Young children learn about the world through their senses, especially through sight, touch and taste. They also have very limited ability to control their own behavior. When you combine children’s curiosity with low impulse control, the temptation to touch and taste medicines that look similar to candy can be irresistible to them.
- This is why very young children, mostly 1-2 year-olds, are the age group that gets into medicine the most. Most children who are seen in the emergency department for accidental medicine poisoning are ages 13 months to 24 months.
- 7 out of 10 visits to the ER for medicine poisonings involve 1-2 year-olds.
Medication Safety in Youth
Prescription drugs continue to contribute to our nation’s substance use disorder and overdose epidemic and our youth and young adults can easily be among those affected. It is important for parents to help minimize teens exposure prescribed painkillers (opioids) and sedatives they can become dependent on and to keep all medications locked up to eliminate the risk of experimental use.
Parents should educate their youth and young adults about prescription drug safety just as they would about the use of alcohol and other drugs. A low perception of harm can lead to prescription drug misuse/abuse. Teens taking what they believe to be legitimate painkillers, sedatives and stimulants sourced through social media sites, illegitimate pharmacies and friends. Drugs obtained from anything other than a legitimate pharmacy can easily be counterfeit and laced with deadly illicitly manufactured fentanyl.
Be familiar with signs of overdose and keep Naloxone on hand and know how to use it. To learn more, visit here.
Click here to access a ‘Talking to Your Kids About Prescription Drug Abuse’ brochure by NIDA.
For information regarding Prescription Drug Misuse and Abuse Impacting Teens visit here.
Simple Steps To Keep Kids Safe
- Keep Medicine + Vitamins out of reach and out of sight, even medicine you take every day.
- Keep all medicines in their original packages and containers so there is no confusion about what is in the container.
- Buy medicines in child-resistant packages when possible and close them tightly every time after use.
- Remember that child-resistant does not mean childproof. If you need to use easy to open containers, it is especially important to store these medicines out of children’s reach and sight.
- Consider using cabinet locks or lock boxes to limit access to medicine.
- Teach medicine safety to your children. Lead by example – they pay attention to how you manage your medications!
- Be sure that grandparents and all caretakers know about medication safety + storage and follow best practices.